Kolkata march into play-offs

Kolkata march into play-offs

Chris Lynn hammers one to the fence.

Kolkata Knight Riders made the play-offs of the Indian Premier League with a five-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Saturday.

Opting to bat, hosts SRH were restricted to 172 for nine after a flying start at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

Playing in their crucial final league game, KKR held their nerves to chase down a target of 173 with two balls to spare.

If young medium pacer Prasidh Krishna’s three wickets in the last over was the highlight of KKR’s rally with the ball, openers Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine’s scintillating start, scoring 52 runs in 3.4 overs, headlined the two-time winners’ response with the bat.

While Lynn struck a brisk 55 off 43 balls with three sixes and four boundaries, Narine smashed 29 in just 10 to set up KKR’s chase.

Robin Uthappa, who got a life early in his innings, contributed 45 off 34 balls, as the visitors became the third team to qualify for the play-offs after Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers.

There were fours and sixes galore, especially from the willows of Lynn, Narine and Uthappa, as the visiting bowlers struggled to pose any serious challenge to KKR’s batsmen. Though they lost both Lynn and Uthappa when they were going great guns, KKR were never really troubled following that smashing start.

Losing Lynn’s wicket pegged back KKR for a while. They required 52 in the last six overs but a six each by skipper Karthik and Uthappa brought the equation down to 26 off 24 balls. Uthappa and Andre Russell got out with the job yet to be done, but Karthik was there to see his team through.

Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan top-scored for the hosts with 50 off 39 balls, while Kane Williamson blazed away to 36 in just 17, hitting three sixes.

But KKR, who needed a win in their last league game to make the play-offs on their own, staged a fightback as SRH managed just 45 runs in the last 7.1 overs.